Framing the text : an investigation of collage in postmodern narrative illustration

Halse, Joanne (2006-03)

Thesis (MA)--Stellenbosch University, 2006.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: Collage, as a verbal and visual medium, epitomises the heterogeneity, indeterminacy and fragmentation of the postmodern moment. In this thesis I argue that visual collage - in the context of book illustration - presents an ideal form with which to illustrate the state of contemporary (postmodern) narrative. Postmodernism, as a term or concept, evades any form of absolute or definitive account. Hence, in my discussion of the postmodern condition I move towards an understanding of this complex theoretical and cultural phenomenon. Postmodern cultural artifacts reflect the state of a modernised, Western-orientated, globalised consciousness, which resists arborescent structures in past and contemporary texts. In both postmodern narratives and in literary fictional narratives the condition of artifice is amplified. Thus, this thesis explores various characteristics evident in postmodern fiction in order to understand and demonstrate the changes manifest in contemporary narratives in general. Many of the stylistic and figurative devices employed in the postmodern novel foreground the excessive appropriation and self-reflexive textualism of contemporary texts - these literary devices often reflect particular collage-like tendencies or characteristics. Contemporary literary theory, in addition, provides many useful terms and concepts with which to describe visual texts and, for the purposes of this discussion, narrative illustration. This thesis is centred primarily on an analysis of the practical component completed as part of the Master of Arts degree in Fine Arts. The discussion of the practical work is embedded in the wider fields of book art - particularly the postmodern artist's book (livre detourne) - and in contentious debates around the role of visual narrative illustration. In both the thesis and the illustrated book objects, I challenge the secondary and supplementary position traditionally held by illustration in the context of the book. I argue for a form of visual narrative that is not required to function as a mere translation of the primary verbal text. Instead - working within the context of the artist's book and through the utilisation of collage as a visual (and verbal) medium - I demonstrate that illustration may complement, supplement or subvert the written text. Furthermore, I show that illustration may assume the role of the primary text in the context of the codex. Finally, this study creates a space for a creative and participatory reader who, through the intertextual processes made evident in the book objects, becomes an active 'reader-writer' of the visual and verbal narratives under discussion.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Collage, as beide 'n verbale en visuele medium, verpersoonlik die onbesliste, gefragmenteerde, heterogene moment van postmodemisme. In hierdie tesis voer ek aan dat visuele collage, binne die konteks van boekillustrasie, 'n ideale vorm van uitbeelding hied om die toestand van kontemporere (postmodeme) narratief te illustreer. Postmodemisme, as 'n term of konsep, ontwyk enige volslae of beslissende betekenis. Gevolglik poog ek in my bespreking van die postmodeme toestand om nader aan 'n begrip van hierdie komplekse teoretiese en kulturele , fenoneem te beweeg. Postmodeme kulturele artefakte reflekteer die toestand van 'n gemodemiseerde, Westers-georienteerde, geglobaliseerde bewustheid wat liniere strukture in tekste uit die verlede en die hede weerstaan. In beide postmodeme narratiewe en fiktiewe literere narratiewe word die gesteldheid van kunsskepping toegelig. Dus ondersoek hierdie tesis verskeie opvallende eienskappe van postmodeme fiksie ten einde die veranderinge wat in die algemeen in kontemporere narratiewe manifesteer te verstaan en te demonstreer. Vele van die stilistiese en figuratiewe tegnieke van die postmodemistiese roman plaas die oormatige toe-eining en selfrefleksiewe tekstualisme van konteporere tekste op die voorgrond; die literere gebruikswyses reflekteer dikwels bepaalde collage-agtige tendense of eienskappe. Hierbenewens, bied kontemporere literereteorie vele nuttige terme en konsepte waarmee visuele tekste sowel as, vir die doe] van hierdie ondersoek, visuele narratiewe, beskryf kan word. Hierdie tesis is hoofsaaklik gevestig op 'n analise van die praktiese werk wat dee) van die Magister Artuim-graad in Beeldende Kunste uitmaak. Die bespreking van die praktiese werk is veranker in die wyer terreine van boekkuns - spesifiek die postmodeme kunstenaarsboek (livre detourne) - en in kontensieuse debatte oor die rol van visuelenarratief-illustrasie. In beide die tesis en die gelllustreerde boekobjekte bevraagteken ek die tradisionele siening dat illustrasie binne boekkontekse 'n sekondere of aanvullende posisie inneem. Ek argumenteer ten gunste van 'n vorm van visuele narratief waarvan daar nie bloot verwagword om as 'n beskrywing van die primere verbale teks te funksioneer nie. In plaas daarvan, deur binne die konteks van die kunstenaarsboek te werk en deur collage as 'n visuele (en verbale) medium te benut, demonstreer ek dat illustrasie die geskrewe teks kan aanvul, daartoe kan toevoeg of dit kan ondergrawe. Verder toon ek dat illustrasie die rol van die primere teks in die konteks van die kodeks kan inneem. Laastens skep hierdie studie die geleentheid vir 'n kreatiewe en bydraende leser - vanwee 'n intertekstuele proses wat in die boekobjekte aan die Jig kom - om as 'n aktiewe 'leser-skrywer' van die visuele en verbale tekste onder bespreking op te tree.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/50609
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